Mars College

Long-term initiatives at Mars College
14 Oct 2021 back to blog

Although Mars College is a seasonal program, some of our activities have evolved into perennial projects, reappearing each year in a slighly more mature form, and inspiring another round of love and care. These long-term initiatves become mini-enterprises, giving us an undercurrent of projects that may potentially help sustain us in the future, or provide a revenue stream for Martians looking to grow deeper roots into our world.

This post summarizes four such projects, all in their infancy, which we are actively looking for people to get involved with on a more long-term basis, beginning paths that can lead to leadership roles in our community. These projects are funded, and some of the work associated with them will be paid or present opportunities to get equity in whatever enterprises come out of them.

If you have interest or experience with any of these subjects, please get in touch with us. We hope we can have you for the main program, and possibly beyond.

Wireless internet service provider

We have recently installed high-speed, fiber-based internet, connected to a property in nearby Bombay Beach. We are the only ones with fiber internet that we know of in our local area, which mostly consists of rural households connected via satellite, or not at all.

We are slowly learning how to form a WISP, in order to provide internet to others in our geographical region, eventually possibly scaling out to Slab City. The WISP requires both technical work, like configuring the network and administering to customers as well as physical, non-technical work, including on-site equipment and relay installations.

The WISP is the most classical business model among the four projects, and although we haven’t charged anyone for service yet, we are in the early stages of setting this up. We’re new to the WISP business, but learning quickly, and enthusiastic about experimenting with new ideas in this tried-and-true space. There is little connectivity around here, and so there is an opportunity to help others harness the advantages of high-speed internet.

Neocity

We are rehabilitating a 100-year old former bank in Niland which has been mostly abandoned for the last 40 years. We have already done a great deal of work fixing a collapsed roof and clearing out most of the trash. We dream of converting the building, which we call Neocity, into a lively makerspace and service center facilitating the same ideals we strive for at Mars College. We plan to outfit it with solar panels, create a garden, and activate the bays with humans doing interesting things. It’s a long road for this project, and is just getting off the ground. Those who get involved with us at this stage in the project will be able to assume a leadership position very quickly.

Telepresence robot

We have developed our own software for live-streaming 360 video to a remote observer in a VR headset or smartphone. We are interested in building an immersive telepresence robot, and deploying it across drones, electric vehicles, and other form factors. We want to partner with people who have experience with and/or interest in robotics and electronics. We’re interested in evolving this project into an open-source commercial enterprise, as well as integrating it into the main program at Mars College. As such, anybody who partners with us would have the opportunity of obtaining equity in any enterprise that comes from it, as well as material and financial support on the R&D.

Decentralization technology

We are interested in incorporating more elements of blockchain technology into our activities at Mars College, as well as into the Mars College organization itself. Decentralization is a foundational principle for us, and we’d like to experiment with tokens, DAOs, and other crypto-based governance mechanisms. We are actively looking for people to help us kickstart this effort.

How do I get involved?

We hope these projects inspire people to reach out to us, either through our normal application process, or through direct channels, including e-mail, Twitter, and Instagram. We hope to hear from you!


posted by: Gene